The Next Big Search Battle: Bing vs. Bard
Microsoft and Google have announced AI-powered search tech, sparking a new battle to dominate the space. But can marketers still win an audience when a single search interface offers up the whole world of answers?
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Aired: February 10, 2023
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Hello there and welcome. Is Bing finally about to have its moment? As we sit here in the tech slump of 2023 – where marketers are down on Facebook, Twitter, Google, and just about every technology – generative content and AI continue to create a buzz. It’s the kind of buzz we haven’t seen since search engines came about in 1995. But now, generative AI might just replace those search engines. Are you ready for what’s new that you need to lead? Let’s roll.
Hello everybody. Robert Rose here with the news. It’s what’s new, but – more importantly –what’s important in the world of content marketing. And for the best in best practices, you can always go to contentmarketinginstitute.com.
On Tuesday of this week, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella launched a keynote address at a media event with more than 100 reporters, editors, and technology experts to show off the new Bing Search Engine. It’s now incorporating the chatbot technology from Open AI into its search results.
Saying that this goes well beyond the current search engine capabilities is an understatement. As the demonstration showed, searchers were doing everything from planning a vacation to researching Japanese poetry and translating all that content from Spanish to English seamlessly – and all through one singular interface.
The company also unveiled a new version of its Edge web browser (you’re all using the Edge web browser, right?), which will ultimately offer its own chatbot service. In that demonstration, a Microsoft vice president loaded up a news release, then asked the browser’s chatbot to summarize it and write a social media post about this wonderful new capability – which, as you might expect, was a demo that went off flawlessly.
So, what does all that mean? It’s all moving so very fast. Honestly, it feels a bit like that moment (for those of us who were around back then) when we started using Yahoo, or Google, or Alta Vista for the first time. We knew then that there were obvious flaws in how all this would work, but we also all knew it would be big. I remember having passionate debates about whether Alta Vista was a better search engine than Google (I was right – it was).
Fun side note: People forget that Alta Vista was the very first search engine to index the entire page of a website – and had about 10 times the number of sites indexed than its competitors. And, it was also the first search engine that you could use natural language search on, typing in ‘What is a server?” and getting results that disregarded the words “what,” “is,” and “a” and only focusing on the word “server” in context.
One other thing: People also forget that Alta Vista was really a content marketing program developed by Digital Corporation. It was a means of demoing how awesome its computer server hardware was and how fast it would operate.
But by 1999 Google ultimately won the search engine battle, and now we are again. Will Bing and AI start to supplement Google and its search engine?
What’s our take at CMI?
Nope. My take is that Google will once again play the fast follower here and launch its own version of a chatbot. And … wait a minute. It’s already happened. That’s right, this week Google also tried to announce the launch of its own chatbot – Bard, developed with its own technology. Well, their demo didn’t go nearly as well as Microsoft’s.
In Google’s demo, which was a pre-recorded animation (ouch, somebody’s going to get in trouble for that), Bard answered a question about the James Webb Space Telescope, saying it took the first pictures of a planet outside our own solar system. Of course, this is incorrect, as a few years ago the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope photographed two planets orbiting a sun about 300 light years away.
There is so much learning here: Even a Google search gets you the same answer – the James Webb Telescope. And the first link is to a NASA blog post, which says in its introduction, “For the first time, astronomers have used the James Webb Telescope to take a direct image of a planet outside our solar system,” meaning (if you really understand the phrasing there), it was the first time they used that telescope for that purpose.
But media companies – and the humans who reproduced that story – then ran with that (perhaps, slightly confusing) phrasing and started running with stories that made it explicit that the James Webb Telescope was the first to capture that image.
So, in this case, while it’s convenient to blame the AI, it’s the very human challenge of not getting our facts right that actually got us in trouble. If you were to browse the tens of articles that come up searching for this thing, your learning model would be messed up, too.
All of this is a new world of how we’re going to search for, gather, and get our information. And it brings up a much bigger question for us as marketers: How does this affect our ability to shape opinions and create value with content? Who wins when the internet becomes just a large repository of structured – mostly inaccurate – content that you go through a single interface to access and never need to go beyond?
In other words, in a world where all the answers are contained through a single chatbot interface, how do we optimize our stories, our points of view, or our products and services to be the ones chosen as the confident opinion of the chatbot in question? More importantly, where does this put the need for things like websites, resource centers, blogs, or our digital experiences?
The answer: It’s too soon to tell. But I do know this: Things will change, and quickly. So, get in there. Play around with Bing, and experiment with Google’s Bard. The world of search, content, and marketing is changing again – and we need to change with it.Play around with @Bing and #Bard because the world of search, #content, and marketing is changing again – and we’ll need to change with it, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
And I’d love to know what you think about all this. Where is all this going, from the perspective of optimizing our content? Do we need to start to think about becoming a trusted resource for all things, so our answers pierce the noise? Or is it really about becoming even more niche, so that our content is considered the best-in-class for – well, as Liam Neeson might say – a particular set of skills?
Let me know in the comments – or shoot me a message; I’m learning, just like you.
That’s five minutes of what’s new that hopefully, you can use to lead your marketing strategy. I’m Robert Rose and remember, as always, it’s your story to tell – tell it well.
I’ll see you next week.